The Bridge on the Drina

The Bridge on the Drina is the title of a novel by Ivo Andrić, for which in 1961 he was awarded the Nobel Prize. The novel tells a story of how a stone bridge was being built over the Drina river in a Bosnian town of Višegrad. The book is quite unusual as the main character is not a person, but the bridge whose history is traced over 400 years, with various characters connected with the bridge (builders, destroyers, passers-by) showing up and leaving. The stone bridge (ćuprija) over the Drina, as opposed to the fleeting human lives, is a symbol of constancy and eternity for the author.


The word ćuprija comes from Turkish, meaning bridge.


Višegrad is a small town on the border between Republika Srpska and Serbia. The old Višegrad bridge is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also listed among the top 100 most endangered world monuments. Besides the march of time, the bridge is endangered by great amounts of water from an artificial lake created  when a power plant was built on the Drina.


The Bridge on the Drina, the Old Višegrad Bridge, is an endowment of Mehmed-Pasha Sokolović, a Turskih vizier of Serbian origin. The bridge was built in the second half of the 16thcentury on the so-called “Constantinople Road“, the road connecting Bosnia with heart of the Turkish Empire, Istanbul, Constantinople. The bridge architect was Koca Mimar Sinan, the greatest architect of those times. There are 11 masonry arches and 9 wide piers of the bridge. It is a little wider on its mid section – the “sofa” – a well known meeting place of the people of Višegrad. In Turkish times there was a tower on that spot, with several small cannons, called  šibe [shibé].